If you dream of retreating to a tiny log cabin in the woods, then I have the perfect spot for you. With a 5-bed hostel, a beautifully quiet 4-pitch campsite and three romantic eco-huts, the Lazy Duck is a little piece of off-grid heaven. We checked into the Woodman’s Hut for a blissful few days in the Cairngorms National Park.
Slow living at the Lazy Duck
You might have already heard of the Lazy Duck. Maybe you’ve seen the photo of the naked couple in their wood-fired hot tub, or the shot of two pairs of feet sticking out of a hammock hung between two trees in the Caledonian forest, or maybe you read the review which gushed over getting back to nature in an outdoor ‘bush shower’. Admittedly, in an age of travel often driven by a desire to take a great shot for Instagram, a visit to the picture perfect Lazy Duck is rather enticing, but on arrival, you will soon realise the social media photos are actually doing it an injustice.
Whilst an off-grid lifestyle has only recently become cool with the minimalist ‘van life’ set, Lazy Duck (and Duck Keeper Brodie who takes his guest manager duties very seriously) has actually been welcoming guests to their smallholding just outside Nethy Bridge near Aviemore for the last 40 years.
Starting with a tiny 5-bed hostel and a campsite open for those hiking or biking through the Cairngorms, and more recently with the addition of three off-grid log cabins – the Woodman’s Hut, the Duck’s Nest and the Homestead – the Lazy Duck offers a crash course in the true meaning of slow living. This is an authentic and sustainable experience; Lazy Duck is a home and you are a welcome guest.
Stay at The Woodman’s Hut, Lazy Duck
Our home at the Lazy Duck (and believe me, I had moved us straight in) was the Woodman’s Hut, a tiny house for two made out of a 260-year-old Scots Pine, recycled from where it fell. With a little house on the prairie interior, complete with cabin bed (at a height perfect for viewing the hills), a skylight for stargazing at night, and two old, overstuffed armchairs in front of the fire – it instantly transports you back to a much simpler time.
Pour a glass of wine (there is no fridge so you chill your bottle in the nearby stream) or make a cup of tea, book the hot tub and get the peat fire pot going for your dinner. It is time to truly switch off, settle back and admire the endless Cairngorms views.
The hut ticks off all the eco-credentials with rainwater harvesting in old barrels, a solar panel which charges the only nod to modernity – two battery charged electric lights – and that outdoor bush shower, which, while far less glamorous is much more fun than it looks. To use it, you need to boil a kettle and stand naked in a dog bed… thankfully the shower is completely private, you only need to keep one eye open for a visit from a cheeky red squirrel.
Things to do at the Lazy Duck, the Cairngorms
You might find that lazing around is all you want to do at the Lazy Duck but if you can persuade yourself to move from your hut, then the Cairngorms National Park is literally on your doorstep. Stare across to the Cairngorm mountains and pretend you are going to climb the mighty Bynack More – and then hike up to the beautiful An Lochan Uaine (the green lochan) instead.
If the sun is shining then visit Scotland’s highest beach at Loch Morlich – or hire a paddle board and drift out on the loch. Foodies will love the Mountain Cafe over in Aviemore which serves up incredible brunches (try their veggie sausages, no other sausage will compare) and the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park has the UK’s only baby polar bear, red pandas and wildcats.
If you really don’t want to leave the Lazy Duck, you can spend a summer volunteering on the smallholding – David and Valery breed the eponymous Aylesbury ducks, as well as rare Soay sheep from St Kilda and a clutch of greedy chickens. Although as a volunteer you will have to take on the tricky tasks of getting the gaggle of lazy ducks back into their home at night…
Whether you stay for a few days as a lucky guest or as a volunteer, it is rare to find a spot quite so lovely or welcoming as the Lazy Duck.
Love, from Scotland x
How to stay at the Lazy Duck, the Cairngorms
Note: To keep the site quiet, the Lazy Duck does not accept combination / multiple bookings of more than one accommodation type.
The Lazy Duck Lookout Bunkhouse – The bunkhouse sleeps 5, complete with kitchen and outside seating area with log burner.
Lazy Duck Camping in the Cairngorms – a lightweight 4 tent site for small tents only. There is a bush shower and camping kitchen, chimaera fires and hammocks. Prices start at £15 for a tent & person + £7.50 per each additional person. Book camping in the Cairngorms.
Eco, off-grid log cabins in the Cairngorms – for the Woodman’s Hut, Lambing Bothy and The Duck’s Nest – prices start at £375 for a 2 nights stay. The Woodsman’s hut offers the most privacy, in the Homestead you are in the same field as the sheep and chickens and the Duck’s Nest has a lovely view over the pond.
Stay at the Lazy Duck
More of my favourite campsites in Scotland